Vol. 6, No. 13
2nd Sunday of Advent
Mathew 3: 1-12
The second week of Advent we continue our preparation for Christmas. It is a time of
anticipation and hope. We anticipate and prepare our hearts to celebrate the birth of Jesus
2000 years ago. We are hopeful in our knowledge that Jesus is alive and with us in our
world today and that He will come again to restore peace and justice to the world. As we
journey through these four weeks of Advent amid the turmoil and unrest in our world let
us cling to this hope.
The readings during Advent can be quite challenging, as well as, hopeful. The first
reading from Isaiah gives us a vivid picture of this hope. He paints a picture of a world
where all God’s creatures live in harmony, without fear of each other, A Messiah who
will restore understanding and wisdom to this world.
As we begin in Matthew 3, we have a very dramatic introduction to the public ministry of
Jesus. Matthew introduces John the Baptist; all four Gospel writers tell us that he is the
one who prepared the way for Jesus. Who is John the Baptist and what is the significance
of his message today for our lives?
According to Isaiah 40, John is “a voice of one ‘Calling in the desert prepare the way for
the Lord’.” The Gospel is now telling us that this long awaited prophesy of Isaiah has
been fulfilled. We also know from scripture that John was filled with the Holy Spirit even
from his mother’s womb. (Luke 1) This fire of the Holy Spirit dwelt in John and fueled
his life with a great passion to bring others to Christ. Is the Holy Spirit fueling our lives
and directing each of us toward a passion of our own?
The voice has now appeared and his message to the people is perfectly clear; confession
of sin, repentance and baptism. To acknowledge one’s sin is not enough, he explains,
confession must be coupled with true repentance. Confession of sin and repentance are
not the same, repentance takes us to a new level.
To repent means “to turn back or change”. It demonstrates an individual is truly sorry for
sin and is willing to turn away from previous sinful behavior. This would involve a
change in the way one lives his/her life. Those being baptized were desiring a change of
heart precipitating new behavior, as we today, also desire this change of heart and
The drama intensifies in this passage with the appearance of the Sadducees and Pharisees.
John has harsh words for these groups. He calls them vipers and warns them of the
consequences of their self righteous and rigid lives. We should be mindful of this, in our
human tendency, to judge others severely, while inflating our own egos.
They, however, believe because they are the descendants of Abraham they are exempt
from this judgment. John shockingly explains it is not enough for them to presume their
heritage will save them. They will be accountable for their actions. They must truly
repent and lead fruitful lives.
John’s warning to the people is as current today, as it was in Jesus’ time. Our actions
should reflect the attitude of a repentant heart. The existence of poverty, homelessness,
neglect and abuse of children that exists in our world, in our own community, affords us
the great opportunity to open our hearts and respond to the needs of the less fortunate.
The year of mercy should be the beginning of a life of mercy, a commitment to
generosity, tolerance and kindness to others.
John’s next message was and is, life changing for all mankind. “I am baptizing you with
water, for repentance, but the one who is coming is mightier than I. I am not worthy to
carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” We are being
granted a power far beyond our human capacity. We are one with God, He is at our core.
We are not being left alone to live independently without help, relying on our own
strength. In John 14, Jesus promises the Holy Spirit will walk beside us. “’And I will ask
the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever…the Spirit of
truth’.” This is an assurance that we will be given guidance in our journey as we seek
direction and truth in life. What greater promise could we have been given? The hope of
eternal life with God is now possible.
John concludes with a grim illustration of life without direction from the Spirit within us.
The chaff, or inedible covering of the wheat, must be separated from the useful grain. The
real substance in our lives will be stored and the useless chaff will be burned. Advent is a
time to examine the chaff that clutters our lives and hinders us from hearing the voice of
God present in each one of us. Let us not cling to the values the world deems important
but to those that are essential to lead fruitful lives. We are assured God has given us the
help to accomplish this.
I would like to conclude with a meditation from Larry Gillick, S.J.
“We are invited to pray in and with the wind or breath of change during these Advent
days. We are moved by the Spirit of God to keep growing, changing, advancing and
becoming more of what God originally created us all to be. We pray with the sense that
the way things are in us, in our world, do not have to be as angular or hostile, or
alienating as they are presently. We pray to sense the Breath of God softening us and yet
embolding us. We pray with the real question for each of us about whether the coming of
Jesus is a basic comfort or discomfort.”
Daily Reflection of Creighton University
The Divinity of the Holy Spirit| Catholic Answers